Why it’s time for you to take the plunge and try solo travelling

Rachel Hammonds

I very often travel solo up to the point now where it feels strange if I have a friend sat next to me on an airplane or exploring alongside me. I suppose my first solo experience was heading off on my year abroad in university where I spent a year in Spain. Following on from that, I went on a mostly solo trip around Portugal in 2015 and since then, I’ve never looked back. I’d say at least half of my 26 visited countries have been visited solo. A lot of people ask me “why do you travel solo?”. Many people express concerns over my safety travelling alone, especially as a woman. If you too are a tad skeptical, below are 5 things about solo travelling that might change your mind!

1. Complete freedom
My favourite thing about solo travelling is the total freedom to choose my own schedule and activities when I visit a new place. I don’t have to consult with anyone to decide on what to visit or when to visit it. If I get tired and need a well-deserved nap in the afternoon, I don’t have to explain myself. I can go where I want, when I want, eat what I want or do absolutely nothing if I decide to. How many of your holidays have been slightly tainted by disagreements over what to do, eat, who’s paying for what etc- this doesn’t happen when you travel solo! You get to leave your destination with no regrets- you did exactly what you wanted to!

2. Independence
Travelling solo, especially as a woman, truly gives you an amazing sense of independence and pride. When I think of the amount of flights I’ve taken, as a nervous flyer, on my own and managed to conquer, I feel a sense of achievement (which then goes back to dread about flying!). I’ve navigated transport in new languages (and new alphabets sometimes!) and had some truly amazing experiences all thanks to being just me. Travelling alone allows you to grow as a person and find out things you never knew about yourself.

3. Safety
I’m not going to pretend that travelling is always safe or that travelling alone doesn’t have some added risk. However, it is completely possible. There are some countries I’ll admit I think it would be better to navigate with an organised tour rather than travelling myself, but there are plenty of people who do and perfectly safely. Travelling anywhere requires you to be alert, make sensible choices and listen to your gut. I personally don’t venture out too much at night when I travel solo, and that’s how I feel safer in a lot of places. I always send my accommodation and flight details and itinerary on to my family and have even sent my location to friends if I’ve gone on a long walk or hike. Taking these extra precautions can help you feel safer and more confident about travelling solo.

4. Solo doesn’t have to mean solo for the whole trip
Nowadays with everyone using the internet more than ever, it’s easy to meet other travellers should you wish to find some company. You don’t have to spend every day with people but if you feel like heading on a tour with someone or grabbing dinner then it’s relatively easy to do so. You can join meet up groups- there are many for solo travellers in particular or even put out word on other social media sites. Staying in hostels is an easy way to meet people if you feel that you’d rather have a more socialable trip. I also love taking advantage of meeting up with contacts I’ve met over the years working abroad- it’s great having a local guide! Remember to always take the same safety measures as you would anywhere when meeting up!

5. Have you ever wanted to go somewhere badly but no one will go with you? GO
This is probably one of my main reasons for travelling solo so much. Travelling is my number one passion in life and a lot of friends don’t prioritise it as much as I do. We might not have the same interests in terms of countries to visit, the same financial means or even the time due to work and other commitments. How many people do you know who have expressed any desire to visit Uzbekistan or Georgia? If I sat around waiting for someone to come with me, I’d probably end up travelling about once a year, if I got lucky. As a self-confessed travellholic, that’s just not what I’m happy with at this point in my life! If you want to go, just take the plunge and go. Otherwise, you’ll find life passing you by and end up with some travel regrets.

Solo travelling is becoming more and more popular and even more accepted by the world. It can be scary to take the first trip, to get on that plane alone and head off on your own. A good idea is to choose a relatively familiar country and go for a few days at the beginning if you feel nervous. Solo travelling is not for everyone but for some, they may end up wondering why they waited for so long.
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